After the score had been 23-6 and 30-13, the Baltimore Ravens cut the Kansas City Chiefs’ lead to five in the closing minutes on Sunday. Rookie wide receiver Mecole Hardman had shrewdly called for a fair catch on a dropkick kickoff attempt, but that decision also left 2:01 on the clock.
So with one timeout and the two-minute warning, the Ravens could feasibly get the ball back with a little more than a minute...if they could stop the Chiefs. But that was not to be—and it was thanks to a crafty call that was planted last Sunday and properly watered Saturday night.
“It’s actually a pretty cool story,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said at his post-game press conference. “Me and coach (Andy) Reid and pretty much all the offensive coaches and quarterbacks, we go through our four-minute situations every week, and I’ve done it for three years now, and we finally call a play we had already prepared for the night before.”
“He has the whole game plan,” Reid said. “Saturday night, we go through it, and we hit those type of situations – what would you like – and we ask each quarterback what they would like if it was this situation. So, it’s a four-minute situation, third-and-10, and so that was his play for that situation, but that was already in the game plan.”
“It just shows that every detail matters,” Mahomes added. “We talked about that play the night before, and you think people would let that go after not calling it for a couple years now, but we had it prepared, we called it, and we succeeded when we got the opportunity to run it.”
Rather than running the ball and potentially giving the Ravens an opportunity to win the game, Mahomes snapped the ball out of the shotgun, faking a screen to his left. The fake tilted the Ravens defense enough that when he connected with running back Darrel Williams on a screen to his right, there was open field in front of him.
Williams darted up for 16 yards, and the Chiefs iced the game.
“We set it up last week by running the little pump-pass out there,” Mahomes said. “So we knew, especially with the Ravens—they had a good veteran group of guys, they saw the formation and thought we were going that way and we were kind of able to slip them out the back door and get the first down.”
And the deserved credit for the play extends further than Reid, Mahomes and Williams. It took all 11 to seal the game against a solid Ravens team.
“Normally, at the end of the game, you are hoping for a run call going your way and being able to make that key block,” right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif said. “When I heard the screen I was like, all right, cool, I’ve got to make the key block on that one too. Austin (Reiter) did a great job getting outside and making the block. We knew they were going to pressure, so it was a matter of blocking the right people and letting the back do his magic and we got it. That was key for us in our screen game.”
While NFL fans are wowed by the results on Sunday, it is the little things, like Mahomes meeting Reid for an hour and a half on Friday afternoons and then again on Saturday night, that pay dividends both at the beginning of the games (seven touchdowns in second quarters the past two weeks) and at the end of them when a win is on the line.
The lockstep relationship between Mahomes and Reid is what has allowed the world to take in their rarest of talents. Mahomes said the “way [Reid] is able to relate to people” is what makes the head coach so special.
“We prepare ourselves each and every week to be on the same page,” Mahomes said. “When he’s calling plays or coach [Eric] Bieniemy is calling plays, I want to know why they’re calling the play, not just spitting the play out. I think just building the relationship with those guys and knowing what we’re trying to do and who we’re trying to get in the certain match up has helped me kind of build as a quarterback in this league.”
“I would tell you this, I keep it open with those guys,” Reid added. “If they have an idea they’re feeling, let’s put it on the table. We give them the game plan but if there’s something he’s feeling, absolutely you listen to him.
“We don’t close our ears on anything, and you check your ego on that kind of stuff. A lot of people put their ego out there on that and you check your ego on that and keep it open.”
No nonsense, no ego. Just 17 wins in 22 games together.